Frank Gribben had an excellent run in the men’s 65+ age group in the Scottish Masters Cross Country championships at Hawick today.
In a highly competitive field Frank finished 5th in a time of 29.23 and wasn’t too far behind the leaders. The ground was rock solid which made the going extremely tough. Along with a 1000 metre hill at the start there were ploughed fields and further hills to contend with.
Frank’s Race Report
The night before the race, I went to a rugby ground with plush grass to get some strides in as I had not run since the hill session last Tuesday due to sports massage and then a last minute physio appointment. The ground was rock hard, I tried on 2 pairs of trail shoes and 2 pairs of spikes – none of which were comfortable to run in.
Got up early the next day – some snow flurries – and had very little for breakfast as the race location was further away than I thought and I had to get 2 buses to Hawick.
Went to walk the course which was located about 1000 metres uphill from the changing area – the start area was on a frozen solid rutted stubble field. The course then consisted of a series of climbs through the adjoining fields to the top of the hill. Didn’t look at the downhill part of the course but went back to registration where the other runners were arriving and joking about the number of casualties that there were when the championship was last run at Hawick.
Decided that the start area was not really suitable to warm up and as I didn’t want to run my race just getting to the start line, I warmed up outside the changing area before walking uphill to the course.
Opted to wear spikes. The start was uphill but only for about 200 metres or so and with little effort, I got up near the front – I decided to just settle into my running and make my effort on lap 2. I could always see the 2nd and 3rd places just about 50 metres or so ahead of me and was making ground on them along the top of the hill – nice flat section. I launched myself on the long downhill stretch towards the flat section at the bottom of the hill. Then onto a series of bumps before setting out on lap 2.
The guys in front were not getting any further away from me and I made my way to the top of the hill only to hear shouts of – well done guys -and I knew that someone was just behind me. After getting passed, I again launched myself downhill and regained 4th place but was overtaken along the flat section at the bottom of the hill. I stayed in touch until a series of 10 -15 metre almost vertical bumps where there was no real power pushing through my left knee.
I concentrated on digging in to the finish. With about 300 metres to go, I looked behind for the first time in the race to check that there was no-one nearby in my age group before slowly negotiating a nasty little drop towards the final bump. I then legged it to the finish line to finish 5th.
Given that this was more of a hill race, my injury problems and that 3 of the first 4 are multiple masters winners (internationalists, placed in British Masters etc) down the age groups, I have got to be pleased at getting so near the medalists.
I couldn’t have done it without all the help and support from everyone at our club. Their efforts over the last year have been truly inspiring and thinking of that helped me during the race.